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Such sites earn revenue from a mix of advertising and sale of additional options.
This model also allows users to switch between free and paying status at will, with sites accepting a variety of online currencies and payment options.
Over 50% of research participants in a 2011 study did not view online dating as a dangerous activity, whereas 43% thought that online dating involved risk.
Because online dating takes place in virtual space, it is possible for profile information to be misrepresented or falsified.
Other sites target highly specific demographics based on features like shared interests, location, religion, sexual orientation or relationship type.
Online dating services also differ widely in their revenue streams.
That is, online dating sites use the conceptual framework of a "marketplace metaphor" to help people find potential matches, with layouts and functionalities that make it easy to quickly browse and select profiles in a manner similar to how one might browse an online store.
Some have a broad membership base of diverse users looking for many different types of relationships.
Profiles created by real humans also have the potential to be problematic.
For example, online dating sites may expose more female members in particular to stalking, fraud, and sexual violence by online predators.
Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue.
Others utilize the freemium revenue model, offering free registration and use, with optional, paid, premium services.